I have mortality on the brain.
I don’t mean my own mortality, though that certainly figures into the mix. I have been thinking about how quickly time is flying by, and that I am at times grateful for its expedience, and at times terrified and saddened by it. For example, when I started back to work at the college where I teach, each class and each day seemed agonizingly slow. I walked on eggshells around a boss who was both passive-aggressive and threatened by his staff. I prayed for the weeks to fly by – and they did.
I arrived at finals week unprepared and breathing hard as if I’d run a foot race to get here. In realizing how quickly the quarter had passed, I also realized that summer had arrived, and in fact is nearly 1/3 passed, and I’ve yet to enjoy the sun, or my yard, or plan a vacation.
At times it feels as if I’m racing through my life without pausing to actually live it. And that frightens me.
Then last night I received word that a childhood friend (and oddly enough a gal who dated my husband), had passed away. She was six months older than I am. She died of liver failure as a result of alcoholism. It was a shock. We hadn’t seen her in a few years as our orbits had drifted further and further apart. These things happen over time. We didn’t know she was struggling. We didn’t know she had divorced her third husband. We didn’t know anything about her because we were too busy racing through each day trying to make it to bed before 2 a.m. and worrying over the minutia that always seems so pressing.
You expect your parents to pass on before you. You anticipate the deaths of aunts and uncles. The loss of our friend has stunned us and neither my husband nor I slept well last night. This is the second friend in our age group to pass away. Sadly, she is the second to die of alcohol-related complications. But that isn’t my soapbox for today. I’m just sad. I’m tired. I don’t want to race through my life anymore and miss out on friends, on family, on better things I could be doing. I don’t want to miss my daughter’s band concert, my son’s basketball games, a chance to spend time with my cousins simply because I can’t break free from work. But I’m uncertain right now as to how to wean myself from this belief that my job is more important. I mean, I know it isn’t, and I can say it isn’t, right up to the point where I have to make the choice between a cut in my paycheck and being present with those who are important to me.
It’s time for a change. It’s time to focus on that which is truly meaningful to me. I am unsure of how, or when, or to what extent this change needs to be made, but it needs to be made.
There will be long conversations over the next several days about this subject, and I am optimistic that suitable agreements can be reached. I just don’t know what they are.
I’ll keep you posted.